Due to a communication breakdown between the Maldives Customs Service and Immigration, Male’ port is unaware of the arrival of nonscheduled charters. This lack of data exchange is not only contributing to the tremendous congestion in Male’, but it is also limiting the port’s capacity to prepare for container processing.
Aside from the MNDF’s security protocols, a vessel merely has to provide a port 24-hour notice before arriving. This implies that ship agents in Singapore are managing the loading of ships without guaranteed slots from their destination ports.
However, there is a significant flaw in this chartering mechanism. All vessels seeking approval to enter Male’ port must register their manifests with Customs as soon as they leave the port of loading. This implies that if Maldives Customs notified the port, they would be notified many days in advance. This method was put in place as a security precaution to guard our borders.
While this lack of communication was not previously a concern, the emergence of marine agents who are new to the chartering game has changed the game. These agencies, who are in charge of arranging berths and the necessary port and services, do not have established contacts with the terminals to schedule a landing.
While nonscheduled ships adhere to the “advance notice of arrival protocol,” their berths are not accessible for days or weeks, thus they anchor or loiter until berths become available.
The rationale for the requirement for this manifest data is straightforward: port planning.
Instead, the agents notify the port mere hours before a vessel’s arrival, thereby forcing the ports’ hands to allow them in when they can. However, the wait will not be brief. Unscheduled vessels recorded by MarineTraffic reveal vessels that have been anchored for more than a month.
Some ships appear to be sailing towards the port of Male’ without informing Maldives Customs Service of their expected arrival time. They are compelled to do so but are unaware of the requirement. The reason for this is that many freshly chartered ships are sailing, many of which have been hired by businesses that do not normally manage to ship or are being managed by forwarders who are new to the activity. They appear to be unconcerned with the criteria.
When a ship fails to notify the port of its departure and just ‘drops in,’ there is no room in the timetable for it to unload. The ship will have to wait offshore. Mostly Deepwater pilots secure the spots for waiting for ships off the coasts of Paradise island resort and Male’; drop-ins must steam about until their place in the line can be obtained. Wait times can last up to a month.
This operational void is just one of the causes of the supply chain stalemate. If it’s occurring in Male’ and Thilafushi, you can guarantee it’s happening elsewhere in the country.
We know that unloading lines are growing longer at Male’ port. Surcharges are already established. The inflow of these nautical drop-in guests merely adds to the already overcrowded waterway.
Unlike the linear alliances, some charterers do not have defined itineraries and they can take any route.
People must begin to address what appear to be minor difficulties with marine supply networks. Only a concerted effort will get things moving again soon.